When it comes to selling managed IT services, there are some common problems that crop up in the sales process again and again. Sales effectiveness? These feel more like sales rejection.
- Prospects show interest at an event or when you cold call, but don’t show up for your sales appointment and avoid rescheduling.
- You submit a proposal after a sales meeting you believed was productive only to have the prospect permanently “ghost” you.
- Your emails aren’t opened by prospects, and campaigns result in your domain being blocked by prospects or your emails being reported as spam.
- You reserve time on your calendar for making sales calls and completing follow-up activities, then skip them when “more important” activities end up on your desk.
- You’re blocked by non-decision makers with objections like, “We’re all set, thanks!”
These scenarios are frustrating, inefficient, and ultimately, keep you from growing your business the way you would like.
So why are these sales problems happening?
In my decades in the industry, here are a few reasons I see for deals falling apart between the first appointment and the close.
1. Your prospect isn’t ready to work with you.
While no-shows can be annoying, consider this one a gift. You’re dodging a bullet. A no-show tells you your prospect doesn’t have the operational maturity to recognize the value of their own time or yours.
You could easily waste a dozen or more of your limited sales hours chasing a prospect who doesn’t believe that common courtesy is a required component of partnership. If your prospect can’t keep a scheduled meeting to discuss their business, they’re not going to keep the meetings post-sale that will be necessary to protect their business.
When things go sideways, their problems will be blamed on your support, not their inconsistent availability for meetings or unwillingness to attend essential appointments.
2. You aren’t properly qualifying leads before moving them into sales discovery.
Most IT buyers are only 90 days away from experiencing a communication or service delivery issue with their current provider. If you catch someone who’s just experienced a major disappointment or incident that wasn’t resolved to their satisfaction, that company will likely agree to meet with you.
Getting the meeting is easy—qualifying the prospect is hard. But qualifying is what will boost your sales effectiveness.
Many MSPs create lead funnels that leave much of the sales discovery process incomplete. Your lead generators want commission. If your sales compensation structure rewards getting meetings, with no guardrails or qualifying parameters around what a qualified meeting looks like, the odds of you writing proposals that go nowhere increases significantly.
You should not be scheduling 60-minute sales meetings with random inbound or marketing qualified leads if you don’t yet know:
- Why they’re interested in talking to your MSP
- How they’re currently approaching the problem they need solved
- What they’re interested in changing based on their current experience
- A budget range for solving the problem
- Their internal decision-making process for adopting new solutions or engaging new vendors
- Their timeline for implementation
- An understanding of the potential consequences of not making a change
If you don’t have answers to these questions, the lead isn’t anywhere near qualified and shouldn’t be on your sales calendar.
Don’t try to rush the process. Nobody makes an impulse decision to change IT providers. You can’t open a combination lock without moving the tumblers in both the correct direction,and the correct order. That’s sales discovery!
3. Your marketing initiatives have no focus.
An email newsletter is nice, but have you spent any time asking clients or prospects what they’re interested in learning about? Here’s a good gut check for your marketing content:
- Nobody cares about the vendors or products you’re using to deliver services. Talking about them builds someone’s brand—but it’s not yours.
- Don’t use the abbreviations or terminology that your peers use to communicate with you. Your clients don’t understand the differences between MDR and XDR.
- If you’re going to send emails, make sure they’re attractive and follow standard marketing rules. If your emails are filled with pictures that don’t download, walls of text, colors that make your text difficult to read, font sizes that are too small, no calls to action for further engagement, and syndicated content that doesn’t bring any value to your prospects, expect your emails to be deleted, blocked, or reported. When this happens too often, your email provider may block your ability to use their services as intended.
- Don’t send the same email to everyone in your funnel, regardless of their interests, needs, or unique qualities. If I own a law firm and I care about backup solutions, getting a generic email that doesn’t address my backup concerns won’t get read. If you’re emailing me the same content that I’m not interested in on a regular basis, I’ll unsubscribe. Worst case, I’ll report you for spamming my business and make it exponentially more difficult for you to reach other companies in the future.
4. You talk about the importance of managing your sales funnel but don’t give it priority.
You can’t expect great sales effectiveness if you cherry-pick your follow-up activities, skip tasks you find undesirable, or forgo your scheduled sales activities in favor of other “urgent” activities. Remember, the best service delivery in the world is moot if you have no clients to provide services to.
Commit to your sales and marketing process and follow your process. If I expected a call back on Thursday because I asked for it, and you don’t follow up with me for several weeks, I may have already discarded you as a potential vendor and asked for quotes from companies I deem to be more reliable.
While these sales problems are common, the good news is that they’re not hard to overcome. With a defined sales plan and a commitment to follow through, you can wipe these problems off the board and boost your sales effectiveness. To learn more about how to hit your sales goals this year, join my free MSP Sales Fundamentals course, running through January 2023.